The Institute for Creation Research has just published a fairly typical article for them: it’s the usual laundry list of amazing biological structures that cry out “Jaaayzuusss!” to the faithful. In this case, they pick on squid. You see, squid have wonderfully complex specializations to control pigment granules in their skins; these are so lovely and so intricate that — and this is the major leap of ignorance they demand of their readers — they couldn’t possibly have arisen by natural mechanisms, and must have been specially placed there by a loving god. As an extra special bonus, some squid have a symbiotic relationship with luminescent bacteria, so at long last the creationists notice a possible benign function for bacteria.
The reflectins seem to be unique to squid, coded for by at least six genes (specific DNA segments). In addition, researchers have found that the Hawaiian bobtail squid efficiently uses an exclusive bilobed ("two-lobed") light organ to its advantage. A species of bioluminescent bacteria called Vibrio fischera in the light organ receives nourishment from the squid. In return, the bacteria secrete a tracheal cytotoxin designed to control the development of the light organ. This cytotoxin is a small segment of the deleterious bacteria that causes whooping cough in humans. But perhaps the toxin served a more useful function, as we see in the squid, prior to the introduction of sin into God’s creation, which led to the Fall and the current curse under which creation groans (Romans 8:22).
To conclude, not only is biophotonic design evidence for a clearly seen creation (Romans 1:20), but the Hawaiian bobtail squid in particular provides the creation scientist with a possible original benign function for disease-causing bacteria. Truly, God’s creation declares–and reflects–His glory (Psalm 19:1).
Reflectins are proteins that stack in flat plates and efficiently reflect light, and it’s true that they are unique to cephalopods. However, there’s nothing magical about them — other animals have similar structures, they just tend to use crystallized purines. All it takes to make a reflector is a layered tissue that alternates sheets of high and low refractive index, and there are many routes to that kind of functionality.
I love how they had to spell out to their readers that “bilobed” means “two lobed”. They could have just written out “two lobed” in the first place, so all they’ve done there is show that they are pompously bad writers, and that they have a very low opinion of the reading abilities of their audience. It’s perfect.
Bacteria secrete all kinds of interesting stuff; in this case, Vibrio is pumping out a peptidoglycan, a pretty common class of molecules with diverse functions. It is not a sign of intent that similar molecules can regulate cell growth or cause symptoms of disease; rather, it tells us something about the flexibility of proteins and the variety of effects they can have in different contexts. The lesson of Darwin is that unguided natural processes have the ability to generate complex functionality, so it takes more than just showing complexity and function to demonstrate purpose. Creationists don’t understand that at all, so they keep whining “it’s complex!” as if they have brought up an irrefutable argument for design, when they’ve done no such thing.
And finally, isn’t it annoying and doesn’t it expose the ignorance of this creationist writer that he thinks finding bacteria that glow in squid at long last reveals a purpose for disease-causing bacteria? Bacteria thrive because they have abilities that help themselves, not because they’re servants to squid. That same creationist is carrying along a gut full of bacteria, and is covered with a layer of bacteria, and is living in a world aswim with bacteria, all dribbling out molecules that they find useful, and that sometimes do unpleasant things to human beings (and sometimes do useful things, but usually do things that have no direct effect on us) … and this confused, blinkered gomer finds one symbiotic function that biologists have known about for many years and thinks he has an answer? Please.
I wish I could think this article was an April Fool’s joke, too, but I know that creationists babble this kind of nonsense all the time.